June 22, 2009

$1.1M in fines proposed for whey plant

Federal occupational safety officials propose fining Milk Specialties in Wisconsin $1.1 million for a string of serious violations.

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration began an investigation last December, responding to a complaint alleging a variety of safety hazards at the company's whey processing plant in Whitehall, Wis., OSHA said Monday in a release.

Willful citations were issued for the employer's failure to comply with OSHA's confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. Proposed penalties for the 17 willful violations total $1,071,000, OSHA said.

Seventeen other serious citations, with $52,400 in proposed penalties, included combustible dust and electrical hazards; lack of exit route lighting and signage; lack of confined space evaluations; uninspected fire extinguishers, and untrained and uncertified powered industrial truck operators.

Four repeat violations with penalties totaling $21,800 address the guarding of floor and wall openings, ladders and respiratory protection, and other issues addressed in previous inspections.

I am committed to ensuring workers return home to their families safe and healthy at the end of every shift, said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Employers must fully address hazards, properly train their employees and plan their work in a safe manner.